People respect leaders because they have a strong sense of purpose and a clear cause.
If you ask any small child what they wish to be when they grow up, you will probably never hear them say: “Someone who will do anything to gain the approval of others”. Yet, the majority of the world is made up of followers. Some more willing than others.
A common saying is: “You don’t want too many cooks in the kitchen”. So, the world needs to be made up of mostly followers. This is not just the easier path; it also allows society to function without constant chaos.
With that said, most followers never amount to much. They sacrifice, suffer and work hard so that leaders can live well. However, leaders are not always followed. Being a leader is simply a mindset. The Lone Wolf is as much a leader as the President of a corporation is. A leader is simply someone who follows their own cause rather than the causes of others. They are “self-lead” in other words.
Are you a leader or a follower? Find out below with this list of eight things leaders do that followers don’t:
#1: Leaders Don’t Try To Fit In
As stated above, leaders have their own causes. Thus, they dedicate all their time and energy to following these causes and achieving their personal goals. Trying to fit in would take valuable time away from their cause.
#2: Leaders Are Proactive Rather Than Reactive
Leaders understand that no one else in the world can ever care about their cause as much as they do. Therefore, they know that waiting around for others to “save them” or push their cause forward is largely a waste of time.
#3: Leaders Never Stop Learning
Leaders understand that life is competitive and burying your head in the sand can be very dangerous in the long-run. They stay alert to changes in the environment that can threaten their cause. This requires constant learning to stay competitive and get ahead of potential opportunities or threats that the future might bring.
#4: Leaders Are Active Rather Than Passive
Followers love to live vicariously through TV shows, movies and other people in general. They take a passive approach to life, avoiding anything risky or unconventional. Leaders take action to get what they want in life rather than hoping for a “lucky break” or waiting for things to “trickle down” to them. Followers believe in quick fixes, magic formulas and saviors.
#5: Leaders Expect Change And Plan Ahead
Followers put their faith in convention and expect things to stay the same. Leaders understand that change is inevitable, so they try their best to plan, anticipate, predict and even drive future changes so they can be in a position to benefit from it.
#6: Leaders Are Practical, Where Followers Are Idealistic.
This is one of the most important differences in mindset between leaders and followers. Leaders simply accept that life is not fair. Thus, they take whatever cards they were dealt in life and go as far as they can. Followers, on the other hand, feel victimized by life’s unfairness and allow this feeling to kill their dreams and inhibit them from taking positive action.
#7: Leaders Solve Problems, Where Followers Complain About Problems.
When a problem pops up, a leader’s first reaction is to start looking for a solution. They take action to understand the problem, why the problem occurred, how to fix the problem and how to stop the problem from popping up again. Leaders will also accept any responsibility they might have for causing the problem.
When followers are faced with a problem, their first reaction is usually to complain or throw a tantrum. They will rarely take any responsibility for the situation and will often wait for someone else to find a solution. A follower’s first instinct when faced with a problem is to “get help” rather than to come up with a solution on their own.
Ultimately, leaders are self-reliant while followers are co-dependent. Followers wait to be rescued, while leaders assume no one is coming to save them.
#8: Leaders Focus On Results. Followers Focus On Image.
The reason that just about everything “new” in the world comes from a leader is because leaders focus on results over all other things. Leaders want to see their causes supported and achieved. They understand this might require thinking outside the box and being creative. Leaders also understand that thinking outside the box is unconventional, and thus, it can give them a socially unacceptable image in the process.
Followers value image more than anything else due to their need to “fit in”. Thus, a follower will never do or say anything too unconventional to achieve a goal. They will follow the most conventional and proven path possible to avoid any risk. If this fails, they will blame “the system” or feel victimized by how unfair life is.
Ultimately, leaders focus on possibilities while followers focus on limitations.
It is important not to have a “black and white” view of the list above as few people are 100% one or the other. No one can be a leader in all situations and few people are followers in all situations. The CEO of a company might be a leader in business, but quickly becomes a follower when taking a cooking class. Likewise, a critically acclaimed chef might be a leader in the kitchen, then quickly becomes a follower in a painting class.
Just like you have to crawl before you can walk and walk before you can run… the same is true for leadership. You often have to follow before you can lead. Trying to lead without the proper amount of wisdom and experience can lead to disaster.